16-17 February 2017, House of Science and Letters (Tieteidentalo) and University of Helsinki,  Helsinki, Finland
Organizer: Finnish Society for Development Research

The intricate and multifarious relations between authoritarianism and development have long puzzled development scholars and practitioners alike: Successes of developmental states in decreasing poverty, promoting social development and maintaining political and economic stability are at times used to justify the recourse to authoritarian rule. In other cases, authoritarian power structures dating back to pre-colonial or colonial times persist stubbornly, re-emerging under the guise of new governance structures on the global as well as on the local levels. The enduring patterns of domination between the ‘first’ and ‘third’ world as well as between elites and populations in developing countries have prompted some post-development and post-colonial critics to go as far as to denounce development as intrinsically authoritarian and antidemocratic.

However, the long-standing debate on authoritarianism and development receives a new urgency in view of the growing spectre of authoritarianism across the globe. In recent years, the underlying tensions between an ever more globalizing economy and the system of territorially bounded sovereign (nation) states, coupled with the intensification of inequalities of wealth and power both between and within states, surfaced as manifold facets of global systemic instability and crisis. In response, a turn towards apparatuses of authoritarianism can be observed, with profound effects on global and national development agendas. Forms of authoritarianism appear, for instance, in destructive environmental and social practices such as neo-extractivist modes of economic development; the seductive use of ‘national’ belonging and community identity by populist and nationalist forces in both North and South; austerity policies and economic liberalization programmes giving way to cuts in social services in the name of development and economic growth; the silencing of opposition and protest by a range of repressive instruments; and, importantly, everyday experiences of exclusion and subordination.

In light of the challenges posed by authoritarianism, Development Days Conference 2017 aims at providing a forum to discuss the complex relations between authoritarianism and development. It invites proposals for Working Groups from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, both theoretical and policy-oriented, to examine how different forms of authoritarianism intersect with and impact on current development agendas. The Conference welcomes Working Groups approaching both root causes and consequences of authoritarianism, across the global South and North, and its manifestations in diverse fields. Moreover, Development Days Conference also encourages Working Groups exploring miscellaneous responses to authoritarianism, ranging from political activism to journalistic and artistic modes of engagement.


Boris Kagarlitsky is the director of the Institute of Globalisation Studies and Social Movements (IGSO) in Moscow. He is a prominent voice in the study of Russian politics as well as of global capitalism. His books include “The Twilight of Globalization: Property, State and Capitalism” (1999), “Russia under Yeltsin and Putin: Neo-liberal Autocracy” (2002), The Politics of Empire: Globalisation in Crisis (2004), “Empire of the Periphery: Russia and the World System” (2008).

Susanne Dahlgren (University of Tampere) is an expert in politics of the Middle East. From an anthropological perspective, she has studied violent conflict, political activism and gender relations in Yemen extensively. Her publications include “The Multiple Wars in Yemen”, “‘She Kissed Death with a Smile’: The Politics and Moralities of the Female Suicide Bomber”, and “Revisiting the Issue of Women’s Rights in Southern Yemen”.


The conference is aimed at both senior and early-stage researchers.  The first day of the conference offers Master’s students an opportunity to present their research and obtain feedback from senior scholars in a workshop setting. The theme of the Master’s workshop is open. Abstracts of maximum 250 words (in English) for the Master’s workshop should be sent to FSDR2017 [at] by 14 January 2017. When submitting the abstract, please remember to write “Masters Workshop” in the Subject field of your email. Master’s students are also strongly encouraged to participate in conference Plenary sessions and Working Group sessions. Acceptance of abstracts for the Master’s workshop will be informed by 21 January 2017. Full papers of maximum 5,000 words should be sent to the same addresses above by 3 February 2017.

The second day of the conference is  reserved for thematic working group sessions. We encourage both PhDs and doctoral candidates to submit papers. The list of the working groups and contact information of the working group chairs are available here.  Paper abstracts of maximum 250 words (in English) should be sent to the chair(s) of the Working Group in which you wish to present your research. The dead line for paper abstracts is 15 December 2016.  Acceptance of abstracts will be announced on 2 January 2017. Full papers of maximum 9,000 words should be sent to the thematic working group chairs by 31 January 2017.


15 October 2016         Deadline for Proposals for Working Groups
22 October 2016         Notification of acceptance to Working Group chairs
11 November 2016     Call for Paper abstracts
15 December 2016     Deadline for Paper abstracts
02 January 2017         Notification of acceptance of Paper abstracts (by WG chairs)
11 Jan – 14 Feb 2017   Registration for the conference open
31 January 2017          Deadline for Papers
16-17 February 2017  Development Days Conference

In addition, the annual meeting of the Finnish Society for Development Research (FSDR) will take place at the University of Helsinki building “Topelias” (Unioninkatu 38) on Thursday 16 February at 17:00.  New members are welcome.


Conference secretary Ella Alin (FSDR2017[at]
Chair of the organizing committee Minna Hakkarainen (minna.hakkarainen[at]